- High concentrations of red tide were found in 47 water samples.
- Deaths of fish and other marine life have been reported.
- Southwest Florida experienced the worst red tide outbreak in more than a decade last year.
- The numbers don’t mean a massive epidemic is on the way, says an expert.
Levels of toxic red tide algae have more than doubled in recent weeks in southwest Florida, reminiscent of the months-long epidemic of last year that resulted in huge fishing skills and a blow financial support for the region’s important tourism industry.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has detected elevated concentrations of Karenia brevis, the organism that causes the red tide, in 47 water samples in Collier, Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota counties between November 12 and 19.
This is more than double the number of sites that had high levels in the November, 1st.
(FOLLOWING: Word of the year 2019 from the Oxford Dictionary: “Climate emergency”)
The national meteorological service issued a beach hazard statement warning of possible respiratory irritation from the red tide this weekend in southern Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties.
Deaths of fish and other dead marine animals have also been reported.
Tracy Fanara, a scientist at the Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota who is monitoring the red tide, said the FWC water samples showed nothing unusual.
“We have a red tide in Florida every year. At this point it’s typical of those normal years, ”Fanara told weather.com.
“It is a cause of alarm for those (in the areas) who are affected because these fish kill, this respiratory irritation, it has consequences on public health, recreation, tourism, fishing, commercial fishing , all that.”
She pointed out that “normal” is a fluent term.
“With climate change and all that normal could change,” Fanara said.
She advises people to check out websites like Mote’s visitbeaches.org to check the current conditions.
Last year’s unusually long red tide was the worst in more than a decade in southwest Florida and left dozens of dead fish, sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and other marine life stranded on them. beaches.
So far this year, 60 sea turtles were reported dead in Collier County in October alone, according to the Naples Daily News.
“The red tide is concentrating in food sources and affecting (the turtles) neurologically and they are starting to have problems,” Maura Kraus, the county’s sea turtle expert, told the newspaper.
Last year’s outbreak also left many beaches empty of tourists, a prospect that local business owners like Bill D’Antuono, who lives in Naples and runs fishing and diving expeditions offshore, fear could happen again.
“We were hit very hard last year and we can’t take it anymore,” D’Antuono told CNN.
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